In running the 90-day Porn Detox, I occasionally have to help men work through a period where their sex drive tanks. It often frightens them – they worry that there is something wrong with them, because they expect their sexual desire to be always on.
The idea that Men always want sex is a common myth in our culture, and one that can cause a lot of shame, doubt, and fear in men when they find themselves not wanting sex.
The truth is that sexual desire is a sign of wellness most of the time in Men. We get that spontaneous sexual arousal when we are healthy, at ease, and feeling confident. And we get it at times when we need to be reminded that we are healthy and alive (this is why so many people get horny after a big scare, or after a big loss in their lives.) But when we are not well – when we are unhealthy, stressed out, starving, or exhausted, the male sex drive usually shuts down.
A healthy sex drive pushes a man to work, to compete, to push himself to his limits. Sometimes, however we need to stop, breathe, and process what is going one. We need to take a break from all the striving and just be for awhile. That way we can deal with all that stress, fatigue, and emotional detritus that we have had to put away until later. A pause in sexual desire is nature’s way of telling us to rest and regroup.
Immediately available and intense sexual stimulus can short circuit this process, sometimes. Sex addicts and heavy porn users often push their sex drives back into overdrive by exposing them to beautiful, nubile, and fertile-looking young bodies over and over again. This puts the rest cycle his sex drive is trying to bring him to on hold. Some men know this intuitively – they know that if they quit porn, strip clubs, etc. for awhile that their sex drive would shut down and they would have to sit and deal with some emotional baggage they are putting off. For these men, porn is an escape route to avoid grappling with something bothering them.
Avoidance or just self-neglect, the problem is, that if you delay dealing with stress or negative emotions long enough, they build up and start ravaging your body. You can become depressed, suffer from insomnia, headaches, sour stomach, back pain, or ulcers. In many cases, the brain finally says “enough is enough” and shuts your sex drive down the hard way with a bout of erectile dysfunction.
Most of us need to be non-sexual once in awhile. It is part of how we make sure we are in good mental and physical condition. Think of your sex drive like a gas guage on a car’s instrument panel – it goes up and down depending on hoe well-fueled the car is. If the needle is low, it is time to pull over and fill your tank back up.
If you believe that you should be always on, when your sex drive flags, you may find yourself grappling with fear, shame, and humiliation. Let that go – some time without a need for sex is natural. Don’t let anyone make you feel embarrassed by it. If you worry about being unnatural because you need a break from sex, you will never take the time to handle the issues that are at the root of that problem.
Alison Tieman once said “the human penis is a finely-tuned bullshit detector.” Truer words have never been broken. if yours isn’t working, then there is something that needs your attention. Take a break, process your feelings, and look for things that might need taking care of in your life. Usually your sex drive will come back once you have dealt with the problem.
And if it doesn’t after a few days, then it may well be that the problem that needs attention is medical. Go get a check-up, make sure that you are alright.
And if it just won’t work for one person in particular – it may be time to look into how things are going with him or her, too.